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Title: Studies in some related manuscipt poetic miscellanies of the 1580s
Author: Black, L. G.
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 1970
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The importance of manuscript sources for certain types of poetry in the 1580s and 1590s has only slowly become apparent. The subject of this thesis is a group of manuscript poetic miscellanies from this period, which preserve an important collection of poems. Although most of these poems were never published, they circulated in manuscript among minor courtiers and students at the Universities and Inns of Court. Six of these miscellanies share a number of poems in common and have texts which are sometimes related; they provide the main focus of these studies. They are MSS Rawl.Poet.85 (in the Bodleian Library), Harl.7392 (in the British Museum), and certain sections of MSS Dd.5-75 (in the University Library, Cambridge), Z3.5.21 (in Archbishop Marsh's Library, Dublin), V.a.89 (in the Folger Shakespeare Library, Washington) and the Harington MS at Arundel Castle. These six miscellanies (and others that impinge on them from time to time) have been considered from a number of points of view. The importance of manuscript circulation in the literature of the period is discussed, and problems of dealing with manuscript material are examined. The six miscellanies are described in some detail, the compilers being identified where possible and suggestions made about the dates when the poems were copied. The miscellanies preserve a fairly coherent body of Elizabethan lyrics. These have been indexed by first line, attributed where possible and the whereabouts of other texts noted. Some of these poems present complex problems of text, authorship and literary or social history. One of the most complicated textually is "The French Primero", preserved in four versions of varying length and numerous textual differences, which has been taken as a test case for discussing methods of editing a poem preserved only or mainly in manuscript texts. Another poem, "My mind to me a kingdom is", (perhaps by Sir Edward Dyer) has been examined as an illustration of the effects of popularity on the text of a poem. The bulk of the poems which are ascribed in the miscellanies are the works of courtier poets who had no interest in publication. Eight of these writers are examined in some detail for the light the miscellanies throw on problems of text and canon. These manuscripts are the most important sources of texts and ascriptions of poems by Sir Edward Dyer and Edward de Vere, Earl of Oxford. The canons of both these poets have been re-examined, and edited texts of their poems presented. Certain lyrics which appear in the miscellanies by the Queen, Sir Philip Sidney, Sir Walter Ralegh and Sir Arthur Gorges (all well edited in recent editions) are examined for the information they yield about how courtly lyrics circulated in manuscript. Poems from the miscellanies by Nicholas Breton (better known as a professional writer than a courtly lyrist) and Ferdinando Stanley, Earl of Derby (hitherto barely known as a poet) are presented and discussed. Three of the miscellanies (MSS Cambridge Dd.5.75, Rawl Poet.85 and Harl.7392) preserve a number of poems written by their compilers and their friends or charges, and these imitate current poetic fashions of the court, and provide interesting evidence of poems in English being written by young Elizabethans at various stages of their education. These little-known poems have been transcribed and discussed, and the social backgrounds of their authors examined. In brief, the object of these studies has been to describe the six miscellanies, to examine and compare their contents, and to discuss their textual problems. The texts by courtiers and courtly imitators which they preserve are studied, and the poetry placed in its proper social context. Some conclusions have been reached about Elizabethan taste and popularity, which may suggest the significance of these manuscripts in contributing to a better knowledge of the state of English poetry towards the end of the sixteenth century.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: English poetry ; Manuscripts ; Early modern ; 1500-1700